Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Remembering MLB Players That Were Killed in Action

Memorial Day weekend is often filled with grilling and trips to the lake.  Lost somewhere between a rack of ribs and a cold beverage is the reason we get a Monday off. This weekend is a time to remember, not just those who served in our military, but those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  While you are sitting around in your flip-flops and swim trunks, let’s take a few minutes to remember some of the MLB players who made that sacrifice and were killed in action.

MLB Players Killed in Action

Eddie Grant

Eddie Grant, nicknamed “Harvard Eddie,” played in 990 games between 1905 and 1915. The Franklin Massachusetts native spent time with the Cleveland Indians, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, and New York Giants. Grant’s most successful seasons were 1908 and 1909 where he led the league in at-bats each season and stole 27 and 28 bases respectfully. The Harvard graduate retired in 1915 and practiced law in Boston until April 1917, when he enlisted and served as a Captain in the 307th Infantry Regiment, 77th Division. During the Meuse–Argonne offensive in France, Captain Grant was leading a search for a lost battalion.  On October 5, 1918, while leading the search, an enemy shell exploded and killed “Harvard Eddie.” Grant would be the first former MLB player to be killed in action during World War I.

Elmer Gedeon

Elmer Gedeon was a multi-sport talent who never had an opportunity to truly show what he could do in the big leagues. The lean 6’4″ first-baseman lettered in baseball, football, and track at the University of Michigan. While at Michigan, he was more of a standout in the hurdles than he was on the diamond. Both sports taking place in spring forced Gedeon to choose between the game he loved and the game he excelled most at. Ultimately Gedeon would pick baseball, despite having hurdle time that would have made the Olympics.

In 1939after graduating from Michigan, Gedeon signed with the Washington Senators. The Senators converted Gedeon to the outfield to utilize his speed. Gedeon saw action in five games, batting .200 and collecting an RBI, with the Senators at the end of the 1939 season. Gedeon would spend two years in the minor leagues, with Orlando and Charlotte.  In January of 1941, Gedeon was drafted and would join the Army in March. In October, Gedeon joined the Army Air Force, where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. On April 20, 1944, Gedeon was flying a bombing mission over Bois d’Esquerdes in France and was shot down by German artillery and killed.

Bob Neighbors

Robert “Bob” Neighbors had never played baseball until he signed with the Siloam Springs Travelers in 1936. Despite only ever playing fast-pitch softball, Neighbors hit 16 home runs in his first season with the Arkansas-Missouri League team. The Oklahoma native would play in the minors until September 16, 1939, when he was called up by the St. Louis Browns. The 5’11” Neighbors would get two hits, including a home run, in his 11 major league at-bats.

Neighbors joined the Army Air Force in May of 1942, but was never deployed during World War II. Neighbors decided to stay in the military and never returned to MLB. However, he did get opportunities to play in the military. While in North Korea, as a pilot, Neighbors radioed that he had been hit and his squad was bailing out.  Neighbors and his men were never located. Neighbors were determined to be killed in action once prisoners were released at the end of the Korean War.


Photo Credit: © Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports


More Posts

Send Us A Message